Friday, December 26, 2008

What next?

At our family gathering last night (Christmas Eve), we were happy. Light and breezy, if you will. We laughed, we opened gifts and there was no lamenting over sick family members, everyone was present or at least accounted for.

The Mr. played his guitar in the background while the little ones ate too much candy and danced around amongst the wrappings. Talk of Christmas day plans for the cousins included more in-law gatherings as I professed that I would catch up on sleep. I mean surely I could program myself to sleep past 6:00 if I had no pressures remaining, no children to run around, no more shopping, no more required baking. I bragged that since it was going to rain this mission would be easily accomplished.

Oh how quickly the serene can become nightmarish.

I was awakened by the horrible sound of retching by my wonderful husband at 4:00 am. His major complaint was "acid reflux, vomiting and extreme burning in the chest". I know i was scowling as I scolded his overeating the excellent dinner, or maybe he snuck out one too many times with the guys for a nip. After a few minutes he insisted on a trip to the hospital to which i said , sure, they'll give you a GI cocktail and fix you right up. I really thought he had just overeaten, overstressed, overdone it. On the way to the hospital his demeanor changed as he seemed to get weaker and added a new complaint that he was having trouble talking. I took the crown vic up to 90 MPH on the state route with no resistance at this time on Christmas morn. As we entered the lobby of the E room, he obviously met the requirements to go straight to gurney/EKG. One min on EKG and they were on the phone; while summoning further equipment, he began to sieze. They took off down the hall as he began posturing and soon after he coded. They brought him back with CPR and two bouts of the Defib. He was having an acute heart attack right then and there. Ten minutes sooner and he would have been doing it in the car. Five angels were roused from Christmas slumber to save my husband: a heart cath team and a heart surgeon. They were all incredibly confident and did their best to comfort me. After a heart cath and stint installation in the LAD artery (one of the bigger ones) he was sent to CICU.
No bypass for now. another special person was called from their family to remove the cath which involves 30 minutes of pressure at the site to assure clotting ( what with the gallon of blood thinner he had been given). He was finally stable.

I say that to say this: He never once said his chest was "tight", or that he felt "pressure", words that are normally associated with a heart attack. I have known for some time that persistent heartburn can be a sign of heart problems but his came on suddenly and hard. Looking back he was oblivious to the fact that it could be his heart. One year ago he had an entire workup, cardio and neuro, and was found to be completely healthy.

Seems that, as elusive as cancer can be in detection, heart problems are fairly hard to detect without angioplasty and they need more warning signs to do the aforementioned angioplasty. He may have had several small attacks over the past two years that were just gone undetected because he was otherwise healthy. He even wore the heart monitor for 48 hrs with no problems found.

To say that everyone is shocked is an understatement. I have told the story 20 times today and I thought I would therapeutically tell it one more time to testify that everyone should read up on symptoms of a heart attack.

I ponder if a formula such as

( family history + eating habits) (bad habits - excersize habits)
(awareness of symptoms - level of dr ineptness)(% chance that routine test reveal problem)

= % chance you will have a freakishly surprising massive myocardial infarction

Maybe this will give someone heads up of they fill in just a few of these variables and solve for the rest.

He is in CICU for now and I have been booted until 5:00am visiting hours. We hope for a move to private room on Fri afternoon. After an echocardiogram, we will know more about damage done and possible further blockages.

Posting may be even more sporadic (snicker) than usual or maybe I will take the laptop to the hospital and continue this experience online.

I will include what appears to be the longest list of symptoms from the following link:

Symptoms of a heart attack include:

Angina: Chest pain or discomfort in the center of the chest; also described as a heaviness, tightness, pressure, aching, burning, numbness, fullness or squeezing feeling that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. It is sometimes mistakenly thought to be indigestion or *heartburn.
Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body including the arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
Sweating or "cold sweat"
Fullness, indigestion, or choking feeling (may feel like "heartburn")
Nausea or vomiting
Light-headedness, dizziness
Extreme weakness or *anxiety
Rapid or irregular heart beats

Women often have different symptoms of a heart attack than men and may report symptoms before having a heart attack, although the symptoms are not typical "heart" symptoms. In a multi-center study of 515 women who had an acute heart attack (MI), the most frequently reported symptoms were unusual fatigue, sleep disturbances, shortness of breath, indigestion and anxiety. The majority of women (78 percent) reported at least one symptom for more than one month before their heart attack. Only 30 percent reported chest discomfort, which was described as an aching, tightness, pressure, sharpness, burning, fullness or tingling.
[Reference: McSweeney J, Cody M, O'Sullivan P, Elberson K, Moser D, Garvin B. Women's Early Warning Symptoms of Acute Myocardial Infarction. Circulation. 2003; 108(21):2619-2623.]

{The items in red are the ONLY signs that this 46 yo man had. He has been diagnosed off and on for unexplained anxiety for 2 yrs, always refusing the meds because he felt it was not anxiety, but rather he thought he had a neuro disorder.}

Please pray for a quick recovery.

Posted at 2:20 am, Gawga time, not sure what is up with post times listed.....

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